Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The new season begins

Chilly air, hanging mists at dawn and wardens wearing fleeces can mean only one thing - autumn is here. It is my favourite of all seasons (although it does hail the end of the dragonfly season, which is sad for me but good for anyone that has had enough of the endless photographs!). As the season changes, so do our tasks. Over the next few weeks we will finish fencing, mowing and monitoring flora and fauna and begin the autumn and winter tasks of planting, hedgelaying and coppicing.

For now though, we finish the last of the summer jobs. The deer fence repair is now complete, using a combination of new and reused cleft oak - it will take a while for the fresh oak to weather and fade into grey. The volunteer team did a great job finishing off the pales so thank you!

Over the last few weeks, Chris Wittles has continued with his bird ringing on various sites across the estate, sharing his finds with us to give us a better picture of the species and their populations that we have here. He has been experimenting with using recorded bird calls to see if different species respond to them and when I arrived (very) early last Thursday he had just caught and ringed three Black caps - they had been seeing and hearing them fly by for weeks without actually catching any in the nets. The recording seemed to work that day! Once ringed, the little birds were immediately released and went soaring back down the river.

Now that the children have gone back to school we have been doing some maintenance in the play area on quieter days. The large log pile has been repainted with grip paint and a new layer of woodchip spread around it; the climbable 'cube' has been restocked with wood and new rope attached; the vehicle gate has been covered with mesh to prevent little ones from climbing over. Next jobs will include more grip paint on the balance logs and repairing the fence where a tree has fallen over it - so far it has provided a wonderful climbing frame but the time has come for a tidy up!

Keep an eye out as you walk along any hedges with Dog Rose growing in them - the Robin's Pincushions are starting to turn scarlet, another sign of the oncoming autumn. I spotted five on one plant earlier today. These beautiful abnormalities are caused by the gall wasp Diplolepsis rosae which burrows in to the stem or leaf of the dog rose plant and causes the plant to react by growing excess cells into these wispy little balls. There are some growing on the Ice House roses too so keep an eye out for them.

Finally, one last dragonfly to see you through the winter - a male common darter on the Mile Meadow pond. I promise no more for a while!

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